Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings has sold the master rights to Taylor Swift’s first six studio albums to an unnamed investment fund less than 18 months after it acquired them.
That’s according to a report from Variety, which pegs the sale price at north of $300m.
This effectively means that Braun and Ithaca acquired Big Machine Label Group – and everything that wasn’t a Taylor Swift record at that company – for a negligible fee.
That’s because Ithaca acquired all of Big Machine (including those six Taylor Swift masters) for a sum believed to amount to $330m in June 2019.
Ithaca is minority owned by private equity giant Carlyle Group. And in the history of investments made by Carlyle, the Swift masters caused perhaps the most headaches of all.
Those headaches included Swift’s public threat to re-record her masters for commercial exploitation – something she was believed to be contractually free to do from this month (November 2020) onwards.
In addition, Swift had publicly stated that she was deliberately preventing Ithaca from securing syncs for her recorded music.
In order to execute any sync deal for a Swift hit, Ithaca would also have had to get sign-off from the owner of the publishing rights to Swift’s music.
Swift told Billboard in December last year: “[E]very week, we get a dozen sync requests to use Shake It Off in some advertisement or Blank Space in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them.”
Swift added: “The reason I’m re-recording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it.”
The bad blood over Braun and Ithaca’s purchase of Swift’s masters (via Big Machine) bubbled over on June 30 last year – the same day that Braun and Big Machine boss Scott Borchetta announced the $330m acquisition, which included Swift’s multi-platinum studio albums including Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and Reputation.
That same day, Swift, whose father was a minority shareholder in Big Machine, alleged on social media: “I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
Braun later called on Swift to resolve the fallout after “numerous death threats” directed at the music exec’s family.Music Business Worldwide